Blood transfusion safety

Quality systems for blood safety

“Quality systems are the key to ensuring the availability of safe blood for all patients needing transfusions”

Blood transfusion is a multi-step process with risk of error in each process from selecting donors, collecting and processing donations, testing of donor and patient samples, issue of compatible blood, to transfusing the patient. An effective quality system provides a framework within which activities are established, performed in a quality-focused way and continuously monitored to improve outcomes. The risk associated with blood transfusion can be significantly reduced by the introduction of quality systems, external quality assessment and education and training for staff.

A quality system should cover all aspects of its activities and ensure traceability, from the recruitment and selection of blood donors to the transfusion of blood and blood products to patients. It should also reflect the structure, needs and capabilities of the blood transfusion service, as well as the needs of the hospitals and patients that it serves.

Key elements of quality systems include:
  • Organizational management;
  • Standards;
  • Documentation;
  • Training;
  • Assessment.

Management commitment and support are essential for the development, implementation and monitoring of a national quality system in order to ensure continuous quality improvement. All staff should understand the importance of quality and the consequences of failure in the quality system.

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Aide-mémoire: quality systems for blood safety

Contact information

Blood Transfusion Safety
Department for Health Systems Policies and Workforce
World Health Organization-Headquarters
20 Avenue Appia
1211, Geneva 27
Switzerland